Hope or Hype: The Obsession with Medical Advances and the High Cost of False Promises

By Richard A. Deyo; Donald L. Patrick | Go to book overview

13

Ineffective, Inferior, or Needlessly
Costly New Drugs

The enthusiasm with which these were at first received appears to have been
unwarranted by fuller experience and may be taken as another instance of ill-
judged medical faith in a remedy which is often one of the misfortunes of the pro-
fession. —Editorial on arsenic compounds in the Journal of the American Medical
Association, 19031

HAVING CONSIDERED some of the players in disseminating medical advances, it may be helpful to study how they've acted and interacted over specific drugs, devices, operations, and other products. The goal of this section is to describe some illustrative events, first considering new drugs, then surgical procedures, medical devices, and the weight loss industry. For this purpose, probably nothing is better than some good stories. Those recounted here are illustrative, but hardly exhaustive.


More Cost for Less Benefit? Calcium-Channel Blockers
for High Blood Pressure*

On a March day in 1995, Dr. Bruce Psaty ascended the podium to present a scientific paper, as he had done many times before.2 At a hotel in San Antonio, he was speaking before the Epidemiology and Prevention Council of the American Heart Association, a small meeting of academic

*This section adapted and reproduced with permission from the BMJ Publishing Group
from Quality and Saftey in Health Care 2002; II: 294–296.

-169-

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